Highlanders down gutsy Blues in Dunedin

12:46, Apr 21 2012
Chiefs v Highlanders
Chris Noakes comes in to tackle Fritz Lee.
Chiefs v Highlanders
Sonny Bill Williams on the charge against the Highlanders.
Chiefs v Highlanders
Adam Thomson passes against the Chiefs.
Chiefs v Highlanders
Andrew Hore trys to stop Lelia Masaga as he scores the Chiefs' first try.
Chiefs v Highlanders
Andrew Hore holds his sore shoulder against the Chiefs.
Highlanders bench
The Highlanders bench feeling the intensity of a close match in the second half.
Highlanders bench
A packed Forsyth Barr Stadium for the Highlanders' debut match at their new home.
John Hardie
Highlanders No 7 John Hardie gets knocked back in the tackle.
Adam Thomson
Adam Thomson attempts to slip out of the ankle-lock by Crusader Matt Todd.
Buxton Popoali'i
Lively Highlanders wing Buxton Popoali'i is taken to the ground by Matt Todd.
Hosea Gear
Making himself an instant hero with Highlanders fans, Hosea Gear dives over for the match-winning try.
John Hardie
Highlanders openside flanker John Hardie celebrates his second half try with Tamati Ellison (left) against the Waratahs.
Adam Thomson
Highlanders No 6 Adam Thomson grabs a lineout throw against the Waratahs.
Highlanders scrum
Hooker Jason Rutledge pops up as the Highlanders scrum pushes the Waratahs back.
Hurricanes gallery
Adam Thomson of the Highlanders makes his way through a pack of Hurricanes.
Hurricanes gallery
Adam Thomson of the Highlanders makes his way through a pack of Hurricanes.
Hurricanes gallery
TJ Perenara of the Hurricanes and Hosea Gear of the Highlanders tangle.
Hurricanes gallery
Conrad Smith of the Hurricanes and Colin Slade of the Highlanders watch the ball.
Hurricanes gallery
Kade Poki of the Highlanders lifts TJ Perenara of the Hurricanes in the tackle.
Highlanders
Ben Smith of the Highlanders is tackled by Henry Speight of the Brumbies.
Highlanders
Henry Speight of the Brumbies fends off the tackle of Colin Slade.
Highlanders
Aaron Smith of the Highlanders is tackled by Stephen Moore of the Brumbies.
Highlanders
Ben Mowen of the Brumbies looks to pass the ball against the Highlanders.
Highlanders
Colin Slade of the Highlanders is taken from the field with a suspected broken leg against the Brumbies.
Highlanders
Colin Slade of the Highlanders is taken from the field with a suspected broken leg against the Brumbies.
Highlanders v Rebels
Adam Thomson on the charge as the Rebels' James O'Connor looks on.
Highlanders v Rebels
Adam Thomson after scoring his third try of the game against the Rebels.
Highlanders v Rebels
Jimmy Cowan before feeding the ball into the scrum against the Rebels.
Highlanders v Rebels
Ben Smith being tackled by Rebels' Tom Chamberlain.
Highlanders v Rebels
Hosea Gear is tackled by Rebels' Luke Jones.
Highlanders v Rebels
Chris King & Josh Bekhuis congratule Ben Smith after his first try of the game.
Hosea Gear gallery
The Highlanders Hosea Gear makes a break with the Blues Gareth Anscombe (left) in pursuit.
Blues v Highlanders
Highlanders player Kurt Baker celebrates scoring his try in the second half against the Blues.
Blues v Highlanders
Highlanders player Kurt Baker celebrates scoring his try in the second half against the Blues.
Blues v Highlanders
Highlanders player Hosea Gear about to be tackled by Blues players.
Blues v Highlanders
Highlanders' Jarrad Hoeata tackling Blues' George Moala.
Blues v Highlanders
Highlanders fan Renee Stewart celebrates.
Blues v Highlanders
Blues player Tom McCartney lines up the Highlanders' Adam Thomson.
Jimmy Cowan
Jimmy Cowan gets a pass away in the Highlanders win over the Cheetahs.
James Haskell
James Haskell breaks through the Cheetahs' defence.
Jarrad Hoeata
Jarrad Hoeata looks to offload.
Adam Thomson
Adam Thomson makes a break during the Highlanders win over the Cheetahs.
Jarrad Hoeata
Hosea Gear tackles Patrick Lambie of the Sharks off the ball.
Jarrad Hoeata
Paul Jordaan and Tim Whithead of the Sharks look to tackle Nasi Manu.
Jarrad Hoeata
Sharks players celebrates after a Patrick Lambie try.
Jarrad Hoeata
Jacques Botes of the Sharks tackles Shaun Treeby.
Highlanders v Hurricanes
Nasi Manu of the Highlanders is tackled against the Hurricanes.
Highlanders v Hurricanes
Adam Thomson of the Highlanders lining up a tackle on Jeffery Toomaga-Allen of the Hurricanes.
Highlanders v Hurricanes
Mike Delany of the Highlanders is tackled by Tim Bateman of the Hurricanes.
Highlanders v Hurricanes
Hosea Gear of the Highlanders is tackled by Tim Bateman and Beauden Barrett of the Hurricanes.
Highlanders v Hurricanes
Conrad Smith of the Hurricanes is not happy at Adam Thomson of the Highlanders being allowed his try.
Blues V Highlanders
Highlanders centre Tamati Ellison is tackled by Blues' second-five Michael Hobbs.
Blues V Highlanders
Highlanders flanker Adam Thomson gets isolated against the Blues.
Blues V Highlanders
Highlanders left wing Hosea Gear in action against the Blues.
Blues V Highlanders
Blues right wing David Raikuna is scragged by Highlanders halfback Jimmy Cowan.
Blues V Highlanders
Highlanders captain Jamie Mackintosh attacks the Blues' line.
Crusaders v Highlanders
Adam Thompson hits Andy Ellis into touch.
Crusaders v Highlanders
Kieran Read rubs Jarrad Hoeata's face in the dirt.
Crusaders v Highlanders
Wyatt Crockett scores for the Crusdaders.
Crusaders v Highlanders
Ben Smith and Andy Ellis have a punch up.
Crusaders v Highlanders
George Whitelock of the Crusaders gets a yellow card.
Highlanders v Chiefs
Chiefs player Sonny Bill Williams is tackled by Highlanders player Tamati Ellison.
Highlanders v Chiefs
Highlanders players lie gutted on the ground after losing to the Chiefs 21-27.
Highlanders v Chiefs
Highlanders player Hosea Gear about to be tackled by Sonny Bill Williams.
Highlanders v Chiefs
Highlanders player Jarrad Hoeata is tackled.
Reds v Highlanders
Jamie Mackintosh passes to support out wide against the Reds.
Reds v Highlanders
James Haskell carries the ball up strongly for the Highlanders against the Reds.
Reds v Highlanders
Reds' Saia Faingaa runs into the tackle of James Haskell.
Reds v Highlanders
The Highlanders score late in the second half against the Reds.

The Highlanders never doubted they would be up against it at Dunedin Stadium.

The Blues have been performing well below expectations this season, but they remain a team with a surplus of latent talent.

For the Highlanders, they had limped into the bye round eager for the break after an emotional but successful start to their 2012 season and the danger was always going to be  how quickly they were able to find the juice which they played with in the early rounds.

Blues v Crusaders
Blues No.8 Jerome Kaino attempts to score against the Crusaders.
Blues v Crusaders
Blues centre Rene Ranger on the charge.
Blues v Crusaders
Blues loosehead prop Tom McCartney attempts to charge the kick of Crusaders first five Tyler Bleyendaal.
Blues v Crusaders
Crusaders captain Kieran Read is tackled by Blues fullback Isaia Toeava.
Blues v Crusaders
Blues blindside flanker Chris Lowrey and Blues No.8 Jerome Kaino atempt to score against the Crusaders.
Blues v Crusaders
Blues first five Michael Hobbs is tackled by Crusaders second five Ryan Crotty.
Blues v Crusaders
Blues wing David Raikuna celebrates his try with Blues openside flanker Daniel Braid.
Blues v Crusaders
Blues captain Keven Mealamu in action against the Crusaders.
Blues v Crusaders
Blues replacement Piri Weepu in action against the Crusaders.
Blues v Crusaders
Jerome Kaino attempts to charge the kick of Crusaders halfback Andy Ellis.
David Raikuna
The Blues' David Raikuna is tackled during their second round loss against the Chiefs.
Piri Weepu, Aaron Cruden and Jerome Kaino
Piri Weepu and Jerome Kaino of the Blues chase down Aaron Cruden and the ball.
Isaia Toeava
Isaia Toeava of the Blues makes a break during the round two Super Rugby match between the Chiefs and the Blues.
Piri Weepu
Piri Weepu runs at the Chiefs line after coming on as a second half substitute.
Benson Stanley
Benson Stanley passes to his right, under pressure from Sonny Bill Williams.
Michael Hobbs
Blues first-five Michael Hobbs is hit by Sonny Bill Williams after punting the ball downfield.
Blues v Bulls
Jacques Potgieter of the Bulls is tackled by Benson Stanley and Luke Braid of the Blues.
Blues v Bulls
Alby Mathewson of the Blues in action against the Bulls.
Blues v Bulls
Ali Williams of the Blues and Juandre Kruger of the Bulls.
Blues v Bulls
Ma'a Nonu of the Blues is tackled by Morne Steyn of the Bulls.
Blues v Bulls
Rene Ranger of the Blues is tackled by Akona Ndungane of the Bulls.
Blues v Bulls
Wynand Olivier of the Bulls is tackled by Daniel Braid of the Blues.
BBlues gallery
Andries Bekker of the Stormers charges the Blues' defence.
BBlues gallery
Stormers hooker Tiaan Liebenberg charges the Blues' defence.
BBlues gallery
Blues centre Ma'a Nonu finds a gap against the Stormers.
BBlues gallery
Chris Lowrey of the Blues passes against the Stormers.
BBlues gallery
Stormers flanker Duane Vermeulen wins the lineout dagainst the Blues.
Blues v Hurricanes
Blues lock Ali Williams claims a restart against the Hurricanes.
Blues v Hurricanes
Hurricanes fullback Andre Taylor steps past Blues fullback Lachie Munro as he heads to the try-line.
Blues v Hurricanes
Blues second five eighth Ma'a Nonu dives over to score in the tackle of Hurricanes flanker Jack Lam.
Blues v Hurricanes
Ma'a Nonu of the Blues celebrates with Piri Weepu after scoring a try against the Hurricanes at Eden Park.
Blues v Rebels
Gareth Anscombe of the Blues is hauled in by Rebels defenders during their round seven match.
Blues v Rebels
Ma'a Nonu of the Blues looks to get past James O’Connor of the Rebels.
Blues v Rebels
Ali Williams of the Blues runs with the ball against the Rebels.
Blues v Rebels
Rudi Wulf of the Blues is tackled by Rebels defenders during their round seven match.
Blues v Rebels
James O’Connor of the Rebels celebrates with Mitch Inman after he scored against the Blues.
Blues v Rebels
The Rebels celebrate after they defeated the Blues.
blues gallery
The Blues are disconsolate after conceding a try to the Sharks.
Blues v Sharks
Blues fans show their support for coach Pat Lam.
Blues v Sharks
Michael Hobbs juggles the ball during the Blues loss to the Sharks.
Blues v Sharks
Ma'a Nonu chases JP Pietersen and the ball during the Blues' loss to the Sharks.
Blues v Sharks
Ma'a Nonu and Gareth Anscombe discuss tactics during the Blues' loss to the Sharks.
Blues v Sharks
Blues players celebrate Benson Stanley's try against the Sharks.
Blues v Highlanders
Highlanders player Hosea Gear about to be tackled by Blues players.
Blues v Highlanders
Highlanders' Jarrad Hoeata tackling Blues' George Moala.
Blues v Highlanders
Blues player Tom McCartney lines up the Highlanders' Adam Thomson.
Blues v Highlanders
Rene Ranger of the Blues dives for the tryline against the Highlanders.
Blues v Highlanders
Tom McCartney of the Blues shows his disappointment after their loss to the Highlanders at Forsyth Barr Stadium.
Blues v Reds
Blues tighthead prop Charlie Faumuina tackled by Reds' Scott Higginbotham.
Blues v Reds
Blues first five Gareth Anscombe tries to escape from Reds centre Digby Ioane.
Blues v Reds
Blues lock Filo Paulo scragged by Reds first five Ben Lucas.
Blues v Reds
Reds centre Digby Ioane runs at Blues second-five Ma'a Nonu.
Hurricanes v Blues
Hurricanes' Karl Lowe on the charge against the Blues.
Hurricanes v Blues
Victor Vito wins the ball over Ma'a Nonu.
Hurricanes v Blues
Cory Jane slips through a Piri Weepu tackle.
Hurricanes v Blues
Blues' Piri Weepu passes against the Hurricanes.
Hurricanes v Blues
Blues centre Ma'a Nonu runs at Lions halfback Ross Cronje.
Hurricanes v Blues
Blues halfback Piri Weepu tries to escape from Lions flanker Grant Hattingh.
Hurricanes v Blues
Blues wing Benson Stanley is tackled by Lions wing Deon Van Rensburg.
Hurricanes v Blues
Blues wing Benson Stanley tries to step Lions fullback Andries Coetzee.
Hurricanes v Blues
Blues second-five Michael Hobbs scores the opening try against the Lions.
Hurricanes v Blues
Referee Angus Gardner issues a yellow card to Deon van Rensburg of the Lions.
Hurricanes v Blues
Blues right wing David Raikuna in action against the Lions.
Hurricanes v Blues
David Raikuna (L) and Ma'a Nonu against the Crusaders at the new AMI Stadium at Rugby League Park in Christchurch.
Hurricanes v Blues
Zac Guildford is tackled by Angus Ta'avao (top) and Steven Luata of the Blues at the new AMI Stadium at Rugby League Park in Christchurch.
Hurricanes v Blues
Robbie Fruean on attack against the Blues at the new AMI Stadium at Rugby League Park in Christchurch.
Hurricanes v Blues
Dan Carter cool under pressure against the Blues at the new AMI Stadium at Rugby League Park in Christchurch.
Blues V Highlanders
Highlanders centre Tamati Ellison is tackled by Blues' second-five Michael Hobbs.
Blues V Highlanders
Blues reserves Piri Weepu, Ma'a Nonu and Ali Williams on the bench against the Highlanders.
Blues V Highlanders
Highlanders left wing Hosea Gear in action against the Blues.
Blues V Highlanders
Blues right wing David Raikuna is scragged by Highlanders halfback Jimmy Cowan.
Blues V Highlanders
Blues tighthead prop Tevita Mailau scores against the Highlanders.
Blues v Chiefs
Rene Ranger sets up the Blues' second try.
Blues v Chiefs
Lachie Munroe scores for the Blues.
Blues v Chiefs
Chiefs and Blues players have a group hug at North Harbour Stadium.
Blues v Chiefs
Blues player Francis Saili is tackled by Chiefs player Sona Taumalolo.
Blues v Force
Francis Saili is tackled by the Force's Nick Cummins.
Blues v Force
Francis Saili fends the Force's Will Tupou.
Blues v Force
Piri Weepu in action against the Force.
Blues v Force
Ma'a Nonu in action against the Force.
Blues v Force
Luke Braid in action against the Force.
Blues v Brumbies
Ma'a Nonu of the Blues is tackled against the Brumbies at Canberra Stadium.
Blues v Brumbies
Alby Mathewson of the Blues kicks the ball against the Brumbies at Canberra Stadium.
Blues v Brumbies
Blues players celebrate after winning their round 18 match against the Brumbies at Canberra Stadium.
Blues v Brumbies
Robbie Coleman of the Brumbies is tackled against the Blues at Canberra Stadium.

In a stop-start affair under the roof, a try to replacement fullback Kurt Baker with 10 minutes to go would prove the difference in a game which lacked any momentum.

The Highlanders scraped through for a 30-27 win which has revived their season and returned the Gordon Hunter Memorial Trophy back to Dunedin.

Baker swooped on a loose ball in the Blues in-goal after a neat kick through from Hosea Gear which gave the Highlanders a winning lead after a see-sawing second half.

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A string of penalties either side of halftime robbed the game of much of its entertainment value as both sides sinned at the breakdown.

The lead swapped four times in the space of 10 minutes after halftime as Gareth Anscombe and Mike Delany called for the tee with monotonous regularity.

It was no surprise that referee Bryce Lawrence had to call for a replacement whistle midway through the second half.

Delany, taking over the Highlanders No 10 jersey which has already seen Colin Slade and Lima Sopoaga succumb to season-ending injuries, made a great fist of his return to Dunedin via Hamilton and Japan.

After giving up an early try to Blues fullback Hadleigh Parkes after a poor scrum pass from Aaron Smith to Shaun Treeby, the Highlanders began to dominate the first half.

A superb no-look pass from Delany put Gear through and he timed the final pass to Treeby perfectly to give the midfielder a run into the tryline.

Delany's sideline conversion warmed a chilly 18,417-strong Dunedin Stadium crowd and two more penalties to the new recruit saw the home team take a 13-5 lead.

The Blues were dropping off tackles and starting to lean against rucks but then the tide began to turn.

Suddenly the Blues were able to hang onto the ball and work their way into Highlanders territory and the Highlanders were guilty of a lack of patience, giving up three routine penalties to Anscombe.

With Anscombe making the most of the opportunities the Blues had nine points in the space of eight minutes to take a 14-13 lead.

Highlanders skipper Jamie Mackintosh was finding it hard to get a bind on Charlie Faumuina and was getting frustrated at the big Blues prop boring in, but Lawrence had little sympathy, blowing a tune at the set piece.

A Delany penalty just before the break gave the Highlanders a two-point lead they perhaps didn't deserve.

Gear was a force for the Highlanders, running with brutal power throughout the game.

His impact was matched by team mate Nasi Manu, who was a wrecking ball for the Highlanders.

With less than three minutes to play, the Blues turned down the opportunity to draw the game and had Anscombe send a kickable penalty into the corner.

Having won just once this season, a draw wouldn't have been worth much for the Blues.

However, relief was the overwhelming feeling when the clock ran out and the game ended on a dead ruck to give the Highlanders their sixth win of the season and a handy send-off before they leave for South Africa on Sunday.

Highlanders 30 (Shaun Treeby, Kurt Baker tries; Mike Delany con, 6 pen)

Blues 27 (Hadleigh Parkes, Rene Ranger tries; Gareth Anscombe con, 5 pen)

 

HT: 16-14

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